I'm sure that there will be many more stories passed around this weekend as the kids settle back into home life again (and get actual sleep, since they never do when they're away at camp), as well as reconnect with the other youth group members Sunday at church and are reminded of all the good times, but for now, the chatter has slowed.
All three mentioned the Olympic games during Recreation Time, so I think that must have been among their favorite activities. H had gone on the zip line at camp, while the girls did not. The zip line traveled right over the roof of the girls' cabin, so they spent a lot of time watching friends soar above. The food was equated to cafeteria food (sorry cafeteria workers of America, my kids have unreasonably high food standards thanks to their dad's cooking abilities). They loved, loved, loved worship time. H even donated half of his spending money that I sent him to camp with to the offering being collected for Houses of Hope. I thought that was cool. They all came home with talk and phone numbers of kids they met, many of whom traveled to camp from Texas.
I brought my nieces home. L rejoiced at the thought of using their own bathroom and sleeping in her own bed tonight as we pulled into the driveway.
S shared with me some tearful stories about how God changed her heart for the better at camp. She was particularly reaffirmed of God's presence by Psalm 77 and had some good talks with leaders there. Not that she was in a terribly bad place spiritually, from what we could tell, but I love youth camp for the way it grows the hearts of those who attend. Teens come home on fire for Christ and I truly hope the fire stays lit in the weeks and months to come.
H told me about the awesome all-worship night and how he went up for all altar call at the end to rededicate his life to Christ. His words to me were, "I never stopped being a Christian, but I want to live my life like one because I know I haven't been doing as well with that." Hooray! I'm so proud of my kids.
In an ironic twist, H came home with three stripes cut into the side of his head hair. It's ironic both because he wants to live more like a Christian, but then he did that knowing that's something he'd usually require parental permission for (honor thy mother and father much?); but also ironic because when I was around his age and my paternal grandfather passed away and my mom went to help her mother with funeral arrangements, I thought I'd do the cool thing and cut three stripes into the side of my hair in almost the same location as H.
Yes, I was charming. A girl, cutting hair stripes under the sides of my longer hair. My mom wouldn't have noticed except that I purposely wore my hair back when we arrived for the funeral. She was already at a low point, just having lost her father and all, but then her oldest daughter did that to her hair for spite. Yeah, I was that kind of kid. By the way, to this day, people who saw my hair then fully believed I used a razor or clippers for the job (as H did with friends at camp), but no, I used scissors and precisely clipped away sections of hair to the scalp to design my stripes. It took talent. It took guts.
What was I thinking?! I was an idiot.
But anyway, back to these kids, I'm so glad to have them back. Stripes and all. Already, our younger three have dialed their energy down a few notches to have the family more intact again. They all struggled with older siblings away. On the bright side, O and J did awesome sleeping in their rooms without their roommates. Dare I say it, they actually did better than when they're here. They didn't mess around at night, went right to bed and slept in come morning. All three younger kids.
J has always moved back into our room on the nights when S is away or gone late. But we bargained (bribed) that if she could stay all four nights alone in that room, we'd get her a Barbie surprise. So this morning, first thing, we were down at Toys R Us and she picked out a $25 camping set for her Barbies. Not a bad deal. We had four nights of peace and she got to prove to herself that she could do it. She could stay in that room without her sister. Yes! Now she'll have no excuses when S goes away for her next retreat with School of Ministry in August.
So the camp they attended was at Inlow Baptist Camp and I put a link before my memory fails (so I can remember where they went) and in case any of you want to check it out for yourself. It takes a couple hours to get there from here, but thankfully, another man from our church drove our van for us (C had work and if I went, we'd take up too many spaces with all the younger kids I'd need to bring). He was so sweet, too, because he got the van washed, vacuumed and filled up the tank before returning it. What a super treat!! He returned it better than we'd sent it off with him.
Here are some pictures of H's body -- not only stripes, but lots of body-doodles, too (fun) -- before I sent him to the shower... enjoy. :)